Kerry in state to support Dems


Democratic congressional candidate Tim Mahoney, left, shakes hands with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., before a fundraiser for Florida Democrats on Saturday.

The Associated Press
Published: Sunday, October 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, October 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
MIAMI - Sen. John Kerry was in Florida on Saturday raising money for gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis and several congressional hopefuls, including Tim Mahoney, who is seeking U.S. Rep. Mark Foley's seat after Foley quit over e-mails he sent teenage male pages.
For Davis and Mahoney, the trip couldn't come at a better time.
Charlie Crist, the Republican nominee for governor, raised $1.9 million over the two weeks ending Sept. 22, compared to $331,000 raised by Davis. Crist's totals don't include soft money that has poured into the Republican Party of Florida, including $3 million raised during a fundraiser featuring President Bush.
"I am working hard to raise the money I need to talk to a growing number of Floridians that are paying attention to this race," Davis said. "I am not trying to compete with the amount of money Charlie Crist raises ... I simply need to raise enough money to talk about what I believe, which is the state is ready for change."
The visit by Kerry, the Democrats' 2004 presidential nominee, begins a big push for Davis, who also will be helped in the upcoming week by former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. All are considered potential presidential candidates in 2008.
The Kerry visit also helps Mahoney as Republicans scramble to find an opponent to fill in for Foley, whose name will remain on the ballot. The Massachusetts senator said the event with Mahoney would be about issues, and not Foley's resignation.
"I'm not coming down to Florida to comment about that. Folks in Florida will make their own decision about that. I was coming before that story even broke," he said Friday. "Florida is hungry for leadership that's going to first of all make us more secure in the world. This administration has obviously made a disaster of Iraq."
Kerry was also raising money for Christine Jennings, who is facing Republican Vern Buchanan for the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris; Phyllis Busansky, who is facing Gus Bilirakis for the seat being vacated by his father, Michael Bilirakis; and state Sen. Ron Klein, who is challenging Republican Rep. Clay Shaw.
In all, the trip was expected to raise $250,000, in addition to $360,000 Kerry's political action committee has already donated to Florida Democrats. Kerry said he also signed up 600 volunteers this week for the Florida election.
"Florida needs a governor and membership in Congress that will work in synch to advance our priorities," Kerry said. "We'll never have as much money as the Republicans, but what we have are real ideas that make a difference."
He also said Florida's hurricane season in 2004 hurt his ability to get his message to the state when he was running against President Bush.
"With four hurricanes in the span of a month, I couldn't get down there as much to talk about a lot of these things," Kerry said, noting that Bush still came "handing out ice and water and $12 billion. It was a disadvantage."
In response to Kerry's visit, Republicans used the same criticism it used in the 2004.
"Kerry's money comes with a catch," said state Republican Party spokesman Jeff Sadosky. "It ties each Democrat who accepts it to his long record of being for and against pretty much every issue, and to a failed vision for our future."

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